Eight horses will go to post for the season’s first hunters’ chase, which takes place at Taunton today.
Runners for the Geoffey Bosley "Tally Ho" Open Hunters' Chase (3.25) are headed by Shantou Flyer, a 157-rated chaser who most recent racecourse appearance was when pulling up in last season's Randox Health Grand National. He carried Carl Hinchy's colours at Aintree, but has been acquired since by owner/rider David Maxwell, who has left the nine-year-old in the care of trainer Richard Hobson.
Shantou Flyer was second in the Cheltenham Festival's Gr.3 Ultima Handicap Chase prior to his Aintree run, and with that sort of form to his name he is likely to start at very short odds today.
Tom Frost's first runner as a trainer, Stellar Notion, was a winner at Larkhill on Sunday, and he will be hoping for a good effort from Sadler's Risk, another horse who is making his first start in a hunters' chase after a career under Rules. A Grade Three winner over fences and with a rating high of 154, he is one of several runners in today's race who can make Shantou Flyer work for a win.
Road To Rome and Bayley's Dream offer the best recent point-to-point form. They both scored at Clifton-on-Dunsmore last month, although the Joe O'Shea-trained Road To Rome (pictured above under Tommie O'Brien) galloped round in a winning time that was nearly 10 seconds quicker than Bayley's Dream.
In Bayley's Dream's defence he carried 5lb more when winning the men's open race, and today his rider, Billy Aprahamian, claims a 7lb allowance, while O'Brien, the regular partner of Road To Rome, has no claim.